The 2015 State of the Speech Technology Industry: Voice Biometrics

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trying to verify customers before they could proceed to serve them. After deploying voice biometrics in 2013, agents were able to authenticate customers in 30 seconds. Due to that and other improvements related to voice biometrics, the company has been able to realize $1 million in annual savings.

Beranek says that until 2013, all of Nuance's voice biometrics business was in the contact center, either at an agent level or in the IVR. "It was very much phone-centric." But that's begun to change, thanks to mobile deployments.

Going Mobile

As sales of mobile devices continue to boom, the market is ripe for voice biometrics adoption. According to research from Nuance, 67 percent of mobile users reset passwords at least once a month, spelling good news for Nuance and other voice biometrics vendors.

In September 2014, financial institution ING Netherlands added Nuance's Nina natural language understanding (NLU) platform to its mobile application. By speaking to an intelligent virtual assistant dubbed Inge, ING customers can perform tasks such as check balances hands-free. ING expects to add voice biometrics to the solutions shortly. In October, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank began using Nuance's VoicePass voice biometrics solution, becoming the first bank in the world to provide voice authentication in three languages.

Multifactor biometrics authentication solutions are also being used on mobile devices. According to a December 2014 report from IDC, 15 percent of devices in 2015 will be equipped with biometric capabilities—including voice—and that number is expected to jump to 50 percent by 2020.

SpeechPro USA, a division of Russia's Speech Technology Center, is one vendor that offers multifactor authentication. In March 2014, SpeechPro released a hands-free version of its VoiceKey OnePass that combines a touchless biometrics solution using voice and facial recognition for smartphones.

"If your smartphone can take a picture and record a voice sample, why not use it to log users into their mobile accounts?" said Alexey Khitrov, president of SpeechPro USA, at the time of the release.

Omar Zaibak, marketing manager at VoiceTrust, also sees wider adoption thanks to mobile. "Looking beyond 2015, we predict that major smartphone vendors such as Samsung and Apple will embed voice biometrics into their devices, pushing enrollments into the hundreds of millions by 2018," he wrote in a blog post.

Mobile technology is also spurring voice biometrics growth thanks to the popularity of bring-your-own-device policies in the workplace. As more employees take their personal mobile devices to work and use them to access internal communications and procedures, the risk of security breaches climbs.

Different use cases for mobile technology may be challenging, but biometric providers are keeping pace. In mid-2014, Agnitio rolled out Kivox Mobile Platform 4.1, a voice biometrics solution that has a detection rate of higher than 99.5 percent and less than 0.1 percent in false acceptance rates. Kivox Mobile can detect up to 97 percent of replay attacks and other spoofing attacks, such as cut-and-paste, according to a company statement.

Voice Biometrics Elsewhere

Many industry experts expect voice biometrics to move beyond the financial and telecommunications industries. Miller believes that further down the road, voice biometrics will take hold in areas such as healthcare. "There is a crying need for voice biometrics in healthcare," he says. "They'll get there, but it will take longer." Miller says that healthcare entities on the caregiver, insurer, and patient sides are already using voice biometrics, but because of compliance issues, the sector may not realize real stickiness until three years from now.

The burgeoning wearables market is also readying for voice biometrics implementations. Considering that wearables such as Google Glass or smartwatches store personal information just as a smartphone does, the premise makes sense.

Analysts at Goode Intelligence have projected that by 2019 there will be 604 million users of wearable biometric technology around the globe. "The next wave of consumer-led biometric adoption will be led by the integration into wearable technology—smartwatches, bands, ear pods, jewelry, and glasses. The wearable device, thanks to its biometric capability, will become the prime personal authentication device allowing identity verification," a Goode report stated.

"The voice biometrics market is shifting," Miller says. "There won't necessarily be a more crowded playing field, but you'll see different solutions being assembled by a set of different players."

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